Gig Review: China Syndrome at IPO 2016


China Syndrome’s wall of accolades is brimming this year, and deservedly so.

Their recent Usual Angst is a modern day masterpiece capturing maturing musicians at the crossroads of life. Looking back and looking ahead – then deciding that rocking out is probably the best and only course of action.

Audiences agree and continue to support the band online and at gigs.

You should too because China Syndrome is one of this Vancouver’s top performing live bands. Great musicianship making riffs and grooves that much stronger.

Their collective stage energy and drive comes from drummer Kevin Dubois, leading that charge as one of Vancouver’s best drummers – together with knockout bassist Mike Chang’s tarantula-like ferocity of hand over fretboard.

Kevin and Mike push groove past “tight” into sublime, that point where audiences are no longer aware of bass and drums – they are only aware their butts are lifting off the bar stool and moving towards open dance floor.

Building on those transcendental rhythms, Vern Beamish and Tim Chan lay down dual guitar tonalities beyond riff & jangle. Always played with purpose, the guitar parts work individually towards a common goal of driving the song forward, building and releasing.

All members sing harmony vocals, providing a strong bed of lyrical support to Tim’s lead vocals. Tim continues to grow and shine as a vocalist narrating stories about life in general.

Songs. Music and bands are all about songs, and China Syndrome delivers a cohesive variety. From Power Pop to Funk to Foo Fighters type harder rock, it’s all about the hook and the groove.

Summer may be what these songs are designed for, seemingly the soundtrack for driving around with the windows open or boarding with your Vans and buds. End of summer touches them with that last bit of celebration.

Off the CD and off the stage, My Pal Dan is one of those timeless pop singles that jumps out.

Audiences agree and pulse on the dance floor while the band does there thing, a very groovy thing indeed. Go see the band and have fun.

Linda Bakker photo

Gig Review: Pill Squad at IPO August 31st


Pill Squad simply launch themselves into action as they take the stage, with zero pretensions, zero give-fucks but full on honest, snotty punk attitude.

Just the thing for the last day of August.

At last Wednesday night’s IPO the band ripped through a tight, truncated version of their usual full set. In a way that sometimes serves punk better – gets to the point and ramps up the energy, leaving audiences clamoring for more, which they did at The Fairview Pub.

Tim Chan  was born with a guitar in his hands and slings his six string shooters without ever casting an eye to the neck, making the riffs seem effortlessly energized. Standing in one spot is simply not going to happen and Tim utilizes every square inch of stage available to frame Pill Squad songs  with feisty punk presence.

Ed Hurrell likewise slings his street-battered bass around the other end of the stage, cracking wise with band and audience alike. Bass in the hands of such a happy jester can sometimes turn out badly, but this is not the case here. Ed pummels bass lines into punchy, rocking grooves long before the bass has a chance to  even think about getting jazzy.

Scott Beadle propels the band relentlessly as someone that lives and breathes punk drumming. Live music is always about the people on stage, not just the music in the air. It it is therefore Scott’s happy-go-lucky, all-in attitude that fills the stage, fuels the beats and breaks – and broadcasts humanity beautifully. Keith Moon himself would have been proud of Scott’s complete commitment to rattling around the drum kit and driving the band.

Speaking of feisty, Tracy Brooks brashly belts out Pill Squad punk songs with credible force and conviction. Somewhere along the way, Tracy has lived at least some or all of these lyrics. Band banter always sets a tone and in that regard, Tracy’s banter with Ed, Scott and Tim ensures the playfully edgy tone keeps things moving right along.

Together, Pill Squad entertain and entice feet and butts onto the dance floor where fist pumping into the air is something you want to do, smiling all the way.